Social Circle: Only mild increase in budget

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

SOCIAL CIRCLE -- Not much will change in the next year, based on the 2011-12 budget approved by the Social Circle City Council last week.

The city will operate on $3,007,284 over the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. This is a slight increase from the $2,834,440 budget in 2010-11.

"Basically, this budget is this past year's budget made over," said City Manager Doug White.

He said the city kept the upcoming budget as close to the 2010-11 budget as possible. The most significant change is an increase in other financing sources, which jumped from $7,000 to $121,000. White said the city is planning to finance the purchase of three cars for the Police Department.

"We didn't want to impose a tax increase and so we held everything as flat as we could," White said, noting that the city is also expecting slight increases in fines, forfeitures, licenses and permits.

Due to a utilities rate increase imposed in October, the city's water and sewer budget is about 9 percent higher than last year.

The utility rates amounted to a net 25 percent increase for water usage and a net 15 percent for sewer service.

The water and sewer fund will operate on a $2,116,928 budget this next year, up from $1,945,295 in 2010-11.

Social Circle will set its millage rate in a few weeks after the tax assessor releases the city's tax digest. White said city officials are anticipating a slight decrease in the tax digest.

Social Circle's millage rate is currently 7.411 mills.

In other news, the Georgia Department of Transportation has offered to pay Social Circle $71,348 for 9.5138 acres of land to begin work on the second half of the bypass. Mayor Jim Burgess said he is hopeful the bypass could be completed within the year.

The City Council gave approval to enter into a contract with Penn Credit Corporation and to allow City Clerk Susan Roper to direct the creation of a collections policy for city residents with outstanding utility bills.

Roper said the amount of uncollected utility payments on the city's books, which is due primarily from residents who move away from Social Circle without paying their balance, has grown from about $38,000 to more than $300,000 over the past 10 or 12 years.

Roper said working with Penn Credit would help the city find the delinquent residents and collect the unpaid balances. In addition, her office will begin to formulate a collections policy for new customers.